More than 200 people in four states have been infected with an intestinal parasite after eating prepackaged vegetable trays sold by Fresh Del Monte Produce, federal authorities said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 212 people in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin had become ill with cyclosporiasis as of Thursday.
The parasite that causes this intestinal illness was found in 6 oz., 12 oz. and 28 oz. vegetable trays containing fresh broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots and dill dip sold to select retailers in the above-mentioned states, as well as in Illinois and Indiana.
The veggie packs have a “best if enjoyed by” date of June 17, 2018, or earlier, according to a June 15 release by the Food and Drug Administration.
Symptoms from this outbreak were first reported on May 14, and the ages of victims range from 13 to 79 years of age, according to CNN.
Businesses that reportedly sold the tainted veggies include Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, Food Max Supermarket and Peapod.
The parasites found in the veggie packs have been linked to various stomach illnesses and can also cause fever and fatigue, according to the The New York Times.
Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include watery diarrhea and frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements, which typically show up a week after people ingest food containing the parasite.
The number of outbreaks could continue to climb, according to University of Minnesota professor Michael T. Osterholm, a food-borne disease expert who said tracking the outbreaks will be challenging.
“By the time cases are detected, the product is long gone,” he told the Times. “It’s very hard to trace back.”
Osterholm said he suspected the actual number of cases was much higher than the 212 confirmed so far by health officials.
Although the illness can be treated with antibiotics, symptoms can last from a few days to a few months. In some cases, a patient who reports feeling better may get sick again.
Anyone who has consumed any of the recalled vegetable trays and developed symptoms should seek medical attention.
It is imperative that potential victims tell their doctors they may have been exposed to the parasite, as specific lab tests are required to diagnose the infection.
Del Monte Fresh Produce, which is a separate entity from Del Monte Foods, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
CORRECTION:An earlier version of this story said Del Monte Foods made the foods that were tainted with the parasite. The food was made by Del Monte Fresh Produce, which licenses the name from Del Monte Foods but is not affiliated with it.